COLUMN: Should College Athletes be Paid?

By JAKE NACHMAN, Contributing Writer 

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (SCPDA) — The much debated question of whether college athletes should be paid has recently been reimmersed into national conversation after Ben Simmons, a rookie professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers, criticized the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for not allowing college athletes to receive salaries for competing.

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Ben Simmons (Photo from Google Images)

The demand for these athletes to receive an income partly arises out of the large amounts of money that collegiate sports generate.

 

 

From 2011 to 2012, the NCAA generated $871.6 million in revenue. In 2010, the NCAA signed a 14-year $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Sports for the broadcast rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament: March Madness. Based on data gathered from USA Today and the U.S. Department of Education, there are 24 schools that make $100 million or more from their athletic programs. There is no doubt that colleges and universities benefit greatly from athletics, but how about the students?

Due to the numerous advantages student athletes receive, they should not be paid. Many students receive partial—if not full athletic scholarships to their colleges—which equates to free education. According to a “Timearticle, “Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Pay College Athletes,” a full athletic basketball scholarship could be as much as $65,000 if the school is an NCAA Division I university, such as Duke University. The NCAA states that annually, more than $2.7 billion in athletic scholarships are provided by Division I and II schools to more than 150,000 student-athletes. These students also receive other monetary advantages that cover the cost of textbooks, meals and supplies. In a country where 83 percent of Americans claim they cannot afford to pay for college, these athletes are lucky to receive the privilege of free education.

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Photo from Google Images

Another issue that arises when discussing the restriction of student athletes is they are not allowed to receive payment from companies who want to endorse them or have them appear in commercials. If a third party company like Nike wants to pay a college student to wear their shoes during a basketball game, they should be able to do so. My reasoning behind this is that the payment would not have to come from the schools or the NCAA but from an outside corporation that wishes to pay the student.

As of now, students cannot even make a profit off jerseys sold with their own name on them. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was investigated in 2013 by the NCAA over allegations that he had received money from autographing helmets and other memorabilia. He was ultimately suspended for the first half of the 2013 college football season opener. This is just one example of the unjust treatment these athletes face. There seems to be something unfair about someone not being able to profit from their own name, while others can.

All of the talk about money and business distracts people from the student aspect of “student athletes.” They are not professional athletes and still engage in some of the same activities as their non-athletic peers. Sports are already the priority in the minds of these competitors, and receiving payment on top of this would only increase their focus on the sport, thus decreasing their overall attention towards academics. When one attends a university, his or her intent should be to gain an education that will last them a lifetime, not to make some money while playing sports for a couple of years.

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